Is there anything more soothing or more desirable than the sound of silence? The gentle hush of the wind in the trees, the lulling sound of lapping water interspersed with occasional birdsong. The remote village of Giethoorn is just such a place, where the only discordant note would be the startled squawk of a duck, as you row too close for its comfort in your “whisper boat”. Serene and green, Giethoorn in the province of Overijssels, in the Netherlands, is at the centre of its canal system. Known to be heartrendingly pretty, it has very few roads and much of the village can be reached by foot or by boat. The whole area is crisscrossed by canals and bridges ( more than 180 bridges!) which adds to its charm. You can walk on the footpath, alongside the canal, admiring the pretty thatched houses and cottages with their neat exteriors. It is like stepping back in time, into the pages of a fairytale. To queries of -are there really no roads- the answer is yes, there are roads and car parks too, where you can leave your vehicle, to wander on foot to explore the place. A large section of the central part of Giethoorn is only accessible by canal or by footpaths.
All along these pretty walk ways one can see shops, restaurants and places where you can hire whisper boats, to explore the canals. They are called so, because they run almost silently on motors. It is not really necessary to hire a boat-you could just walk alongside the canals to see all the most famous and the most picturesque places.
During the holiday season, this so called Venice of the Netherlands, literally transforms into a miniature touristy Venice, with hordes of tourists, boating in the canals, the amateurs even bumping into one another, or crowding the narrow pathways and parks. The larger tour boats are noisier too with the raised voices of the guides. It has to be mentioned here that this is the scenario during the peak holiday season, in August. Reliable sources claim that it is quiet and peaceful during the off season. If you opt to stay overnight, you can enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the place after the tourists have left, or even in the early morning.
Despite its rising popularity as a tourist destination, it is what it is. Nothing can alter that. And Giethoorn is as lovely as a picture, with its flower bedecked bridges, the pretty houses with their painted shutters and lovingly tended gardens. Sit by the canals and watch the swans and ducks, and the boats go by. Relax and let time stand still.